I don't know about most people, but my favorite thing about seeing a band live is the energy. I just can't get enough of the frenetic intensity that pervades shows and runs back and forth between the manic audience and the performer, even if the actual playing is off because of it.
When a performer is bored or listless, even if they get all the notes right, it kills me. I guess that's why I like seeing punk rock bands more than folk artists.
Sometimes it can be hard to find that ultimate bit of pure magic, though. There's plenty of bands that bring the right vibe to the table, but it's a lot harder to find the kind of band I like the most: a group that are like cracked out acrobats playing heavy, fast music. I have, fortunately, found a few that I follow devotedly every time they play in Texas, and here are five who do that best.
5. Touche Amore One of the best post-hardcore bands to come out in years, and one of the most energetic bands out there today, Touche Amore perfectly employs the classic sounds of "emo" (before it turned into pop-punk) and hardcore to make incredible two-minute bursts of lightning in musical form.
Their live shows are absolutely awesome and feature groups of hundreds of kids chanting every single word, the band going nuts, and lots of crowd surfing and stage diving. In other words, Touche Amore in 2013 is everything that was great about live punk shows in the '80s. They were one of the best bands at last year's Free Press Summer Fest, and hopefully they'll be back in Houston soon enough.
4. Trash Talk When it comes to Trash Talk, the band loses it, the audience loses it, everyone loses it. No one is left standing still and those that are often get knocked out. Literally. I've seen it happen.
If you can handle the inherent danger in being in the audience for a Trash Talk show though, it's one of the most fun live experiences out there. And much credit to front man Lee Spielman, who gives every single show his all, even when he has a broken leg like at their highlight of SXSW show this year.
3. Converge Converge aren't quite the acrobats onstage, but their intensity and passion is almost unrivaled. Front man Jacob Bannon's connection with fans is unparalleled, and the emotion that pours through in each and every performance he gives is overwhelming. Take this performance in Paris, for instance where Bannon can hardly keep himself together during "Jane Doe.
With music as crushing and affecting as Converge's, it would seem hard to sustain such unbridled enthusiasm. One would think the misery would eventually give way to boredom, but as outlined in my review of Converge's Houston show in 2012, they have not lost a step over the years.
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2. B L A C K I E (All Caps With Spaces) B L A C K I E's shows will be the kind parents will tell their kids about in twenty years. They're the kind of thing that might not last forever, but will live in infamy long after he decides to stop doing all this crazy shit. And luckily for us, we don't have to go far or wait very long to see them since B L A C K I E is Houston born and bred.
The intensity he brings defies naming, genre, or explanation. Most bands are lucky to have one show on a tour that matches this kind of insanity, but B L A C K I E brings it every single time he performs. Of course, in Houston it's a lot more fun because we get it.
The show in France seen above looks awesome, but the crowd clearly has never seen B L A C K I E before and has no idea how to react. Par for the course with something this bizarre and yet altogether amazing.1. The Dillinger Escape Plan
The scene: Revolver Golden God Awards 2013. The band: The Dillinger Escape Plan. Just as they launched into "When I Lost My Bet," their latest single from their new albumOne of Us is the Killer
, front man Greg Puciato, bloody-faced and stalking the stage, shouted at the audience, "this is real shit, motherfuckers!"
For an award show, it's a profound statement, and one exemplified in their music. Where Revolver has essentially taken an underground form of music built around brutality and built a cheesy award show around it, Dillinger showed up to completely tear the house down with "real shit."
This band is made up of some of the most talented, accomplished instrumentalists in rock music today, but what makes their live shows so insane is that they mix their particular form of already intense music with some of the craziest, most intense showmanship in the business today. On top of it all, they never miss a beat despite the intricate complexities of their music.
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By the end of the show, Dillinger finished their "statement" by breathing fire and destroying every single thing in sight, all the while still playing a ridiculously heavy breakdown. All this after finishing a cover of Depeche Mode's ""Behind the Wheel." This is just one shining example of the band's style onstage, and is the latest proof that they are not to be missed when they hit Houston July 27 on the Summer Slaughter tour.